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For over two years, Conservation Music has honed its ability to reach people in Southern Africa and around the world with information about conservation, climate change, and grassroots sustainability. Since October of 2015, we've developed a beautiful portfolio of educational songs and music videos, a healthy list of partners including the National Geographic Society, and an impressive array of accomplishments see 2017 report here, including a quantitative study and a documentary film.
In March 2018, the Conservation Music field crew is launching a sea-to-summit caravan from Cape Town’s (Kaapstad's) drying coast to Tanzania’s melting glacier, forming eco-educational music collaborations and working with and documenting the existing efforts of local NGOs along the way. This expedition is our third iteration of long-term field work, and it is by far the most exciting. Follow us to get updates from field as begin our 13 month mission.
Also, please note that contributions made below are indeed tax deductible in the US, because Conservation Music is a registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Any support goes a long way in achieving our mission!
“When I grew up, we were lacking water here in Tlokoeng. We used to walk far away to collect water. Sometimes, the rains would cover the world, and there was still nowhere to collect the water. We had to use our spades to make a spring.... ...I think music can be a good teacher for the people, because some people are too lazy to read, so when listening to music, they get the message.” ~Limatakso | Tlokoeng, Lesotho 🎵🌍❤️ #conservationmusic #K2K #FacesOfCM
The ROV Beagle is getting a tuneup for the upcoming expedition. The CTD sensor has been calibrated and we have reconfigured the onscreen display. We will be putting the ROV in the water on May 5th to fully test it for the upcoming expedition at the MARE Open House - https://www.maregroup.org/richmond-open-house.html The Beagle was built by MARE to gather marine habitat and biological information from a ship of opportunity. The Beagle is used for image, sample and data collection in the ocean environment at depths of 15 m to 1,000 m. The ROV system is fully integrated with an array of video cameras, lights, scaling lasers, a digital still camera, 5 function manipulator, multi-beam sonar, USBL tracking, CTD+DO2, altimeters and recording equipment.
The ultimate goal of this project is to develop sustainable local and regional educational programs and community activities that highlight cenotes and promote deeper understanding of this critical and fragile resource. Our team will train local university students in Yucatan to become ambassadors for cenotes. Together with other expedition team members, our ambassadors will reach out to local teachers and students in Yucatan. By focusing on students and young adults we will reach a cohort that is beginning to develop critical thinking skills and a social consciousness. To date, our team has successfully obtained National Geographic funding to undertake the exhibition. Currently, we are busy planning teaching modules centered around the oral history and folklore, science and safety, archaeology and heritage of cenotes. We have selected our advisory board composed of K-12 teachers, archaeologists, engineers, art historians, professors and governments officials and are in the process of selecting university students from Valladolid, Mexico to serve as our Yucatan student ambassadors. Our ambassadors, along with members of our advisory board will begin leading our teaching modules with local Yucatan teachers and students next month!
COMING SOON: THE AQUARIUS PROJECT PODCAST The Adler Planetarium is hard at work on an in-depth podcast series about the Aquarius Project! Get the story behind the field journal, meet the team, and follow us into the unknown on the Aquarius Project Podcast. Episodes won’t be ready until later this year, but WATCH THIS SPACE and follow the Adler on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook for updates!
A group of researchers from different institutions have joint efforts to study the collapse of the underwater macroalgal forests and the expansion of barrens. In particular, we are interested in understanding what characterises these new barrens in order to isolate the factors that determine their creation. We also believe that monitoring already existing deserts is essential to prevent and predict the creation of new barrens along the coastline and will help us evaluate the possibilities of recovering lost underwater forests. We have launched a citizen science project to spot barrens worldwide. We combine different technologies to detect, measure and monitor the hidden deserts from flying and underwater drones to snorkel and SCUBA diving.
Making the Invisible Visible Pt III Pictographs in the northeast are rare. The few I am aware of are from the colonial period of New England. Unlike petroglyph, pictographs are just a surface coating and tend to be far less durable. Pictographs that have survived in America are either in protected areas such as caves and shelters or exist in dryer climates. Though New England’s harsh weather appears to have erased the pictographs, we are hoping that some of the surface coating might still faintly remain on the rocks surface. If so, we might be able to reveal the remaining coating with an image enhancement program called DStretch. This program has been very successful in drawing out details in an image that are invisible to the human eye. This tool applies a decorrelation stretch algorithm that was originally developed by NASA JPL. Simply, an algorithm that will find and extract a weak signal from the noise is applied to the color data. In this application the weak signal is the difference in hue that is too subtle for the human eye to notice. Once this weak signal is detected, the contrast for each color is stretched to equalize the color variances. This tool has buttons for a variety of colorspaces that the decorrelation can be performed in and give different results. The results I’ve seen with pictographs in the western United States is no less than amazing. Though I have not been able to use DStretch on any of the known colonial pictographs, out of curiosity, I applied the tool to photos from known Indian shelters I’ve visited over the years. To my surprised I saw results with one of them. On what appeared to be bare rock, a have hidden text was revealed. At Abrams Bedroom in Swansea MA, the boulder at the entrance to the shelter was shown to previously have the word CAVE painted on it. Since it appears that it had been spray painted onto the rock, it could be from no earlier than the late 40s. Though the find has no historical value, it showed the easy of use of this tool, and its value in the field & to review older images for unknown pictographs. DStretch is also available for free. Below is a video demonstration of DStretch being applied to the rock outside of Abrams Bedroom in Massachusetts.
Lynnhaven Inlet Oyster Reef Assessment Proof of Concept Trials Greetings Explorers! We are back in the Bay and have an exciting technology POC mission being planned with the Virginia Institute of Marine Science and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. We are working on a Concept of Operations (ConOps) mission plan to test two of our ROV platforms using on-board video and GoPro payloads to visually assess targeted oyster reefs in the Lynnhaven inlet here on the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Not only are we taking video, but we will be using the GoPro to capture images for the 3D reconstruction of the reefs, modeling and assessment tasks. Structure from Motion, SfM is a photogrammetry technique that ranges camera distance from a sequence of images. Solving the camera resectioning problem, we can determine range, and inversely, structure through the sequence. In short, we solve the local camera position problem and build a 3D representation of an object. To learn more, please refer to Structure from Motion wiki. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Structurefrommotion You can do some pretty neat things with this. For instance, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nsl0fUtc2ug Yes, cool indeed. Moving on, there is a scientific 'why?' here. Oysters are a big deal. Really big. Sure they taste good, fried, steamed, raw. They rock. But they represent something else, something far bigger then you are probably aware. Directly from the University of Maryland, http://hatchery.hpl.umces.edu/oysters/importance-of-oysters/, "The most widely known ecological function of the oyster is that they filter the water. Oysters are considered the vacuum cleaners of the Chesapeake Bay. They filter the water removing organic and inorganic particles from the water column resulting in cleaner water which positively impacts other species." But, oysters reefs also provide habitat and shelter for other species of marine life in the Bay and sustain a multi-tiered ecosystem, supporting life from the vary smallest, to the bigger bay fishes and, of course, us. They are key indicators of Bay health and are fundamental to the ecosystem, which we are also a part of. Also, oyster reef, the naturally occurring ones, orient themselves perpendicular to prevailing currents. I had no idea that they did this. This is awesome. It makes sense, they are filter feeders so orienting themselves this way allows them to take advantage of the natural tidal currents generated, maximizing food intake. Studying this behavior is a key interest to the marine science community. (Also, Alan Turing had the math that explained behaviors like this modeled this in the '50s. Morphogenesis, look it up!) Hopping of the soap box, we look forward to getting into the water in the next month, before it starts to get really warm here and the water tends to get more turbid. We'll update on expedition dates with in the week. Other things to consider for this trek: Best times for observations. Tides are a big deal. Slack tides may prove best for water clarity and weak tidal currents. Volunteers needed...always. We have 1 boat with two guides from CBF. It would be better if we had two teams. (This is a call for volunteers, please contact me!) General logistics. Working on this now. ROV training. If you volunteer, you'll get this. Assessment planning Data post-processing and report. Well, I hope this piques your interest. More to come soon! Image of restoration sites citation: Lipcius RN, Burke R P, McCulloch D N, Schreiber S J, Schulte D M, Seitz R D and Shen J. (2015) Overcoming restoration paradigms:value of the historical record and metapopulation dynamics in native oyster restoration. Front. Mar.Sci.2:65. doi: 10.3389/fmars.2015.00065
Middle school teachers Lynn and Sue met aboard a shipboard science/maritime heritage expedition in August 2017 on the S/V Denis Sullivan, a replica tall ship that travels the Great Lakes. Lynn and Sue continue their friendship and relationship today and are planning a day of water quality testing and underwater exploration on Lake Mendota in Madison, Wisconsin. Sue and Lynn will go out with Jake Walsh, researcher with the Center for Limnology at the UW-Madison. Walsh's research has focused on understanding how species invasions, eutrophication, climate change, and human decision-making affect lakes. Along for the voyage will be Tori Keifer, maritime archeologist with the Wisconsin Historical Society. Tori will help the students and teachers find some underwater treasurers.
The Eriee Glow of Bioluminescence. Shortly into this expedition we unexpectedly were pulled into another project that consumed much of our time and energy. After three years we can finally turn our attention back to the bioluminescent creatures hidden in New England. When we last left off we were attempting to grow Panellus stipticus in the Dirt Lab. Panellus stipticus, commonly known as the bitter oyster, is a fungus in New England known for its bioluminescence. We hoped to not only be able to closely examine the fungus, but also use it to learn how to best photograph its luminescence. Our first attempt was met with failure, but we were not deterred. Our second attempt was successful enough to do some test images. Impressed by the results, we planned on doing a 3D model of the glowing fungus once the fruit grew larger. Soon after we found our fungus was overtaken by bacteria that contaminated our fruiting chamber. Our third attempt was much like our second one. So far we’ve learned that growing fungus is not our forte, but sometime failure is the tuition you pay to become a master. This month we will once again try to grow Panellus stipticus. Before we get started though we will consult someone experienced with growing this fungus, and adjust our approach. Hopefully this time we’ll finally be successful and be able to do do our series of photos, and 3D model. Over the spring and summer we’ll be back on the trail of the bioluminescent fungus and creatures hidden in the wilds of New England.
Although the Megamouth is a large species of shark reaching ~20 ft in length, it remained undetected by humans until about 40 years ago. Since its recent discovery very few Megamouths have been encountered with just over 100 individuals recorded in human history. However, a small fishing village in Taiwan is experiencing a large number of Megamouths a few weeks out of the year. These landings mostly go unreported and undetected by science. The fishers have contacted us with photographic evidence of these encounters. For this expedition a small team will go to the rural fishing village and work with local fishers to catch and tag one of the most elusive and mysterious species of sharks on the planet. Working within the small window that Megamouths are accessible, we aim to collect data to study for years to come. Along with other information we will collect life history data, tissue for isotope analysis, and we will release Megamouths with 12 month satellite tags. Almost nothing is known about Megamouth Sharks. We hope that the wealth of data we aim to collect will supply policy makers with the information they need to management this majestic species.
In late 2016 we revisited the blocks with David Robinson, marine archeologist at the University of Rhode Island's Graduate School of Oceanography. Together with David and his associates, we did a survey of the area to measure and plot the location of all the block. Using a quadcopter we captured an aerial overview of the blocks, and used the images to build a 3D model. You can find the model at: https://sketchfab.com/models/435fd6e6a6b6427faaed6ac2bd624c62 Over the past few years we have been working with Varoujan, a representative from the Lighthouse Museum, to find a vendor that can transport the Fluer-D-Lis block to the side of the museum. Where the blocks are located is very dangerous for ships, so those vendors that Varoujan has spoken to consider the job as too risky, or the price they have offer is far too high. We’ve had a few nibbles from locals, but each have not panned out. This spring I will be meeting with Varoujan discuss possible alternatives that would not require moving the block but create a living museum people would be safe to visit.
Quick Event Debrief We had a great time diving Trident in the Inner Harbor. All told we did 5 separate dives which allowed about 45 students to try their hand at the sticks. Unfortunately bad weather and low batteries shortened our afternoon operations and one group didn't all get to fly. Not bad for the first time doing a five-hour event like this. What I'd do differently in the future: Have a little explanatory sign up for students and the passing public. Bring a second ROV to ensure that battery life wouldn't cut the program short. Bring an assistant to help with student flow and group management (and take more photos. It's awfully hard to manage a group of excited middle-schoolers and properly document the event). That little velcro strap really makes a difference for dock deployments.
The National Geographic Okavango Wilderness Project is a research and exploration project, gathering the relevant baseline data in order to support the current and proposed protection, conservation and socio-economic upliftment within this undeveloped system.The project was borne from the Okavango Wetland Bird Survey, a 9-year annual research survey started by Steve Boyes in 2010. The aim was to document the wetland birds along a transect across the Okavango Delta, north to south, from dug-out canoes (makoro), and use the wetland bird to gauge the health of the system. In 2013, Steve Boyes was made an Emerging Explorer with the National Geographic Society, and the awareness around this project of small beginnings was rapidly growing. Our own awareness of this incredible, pristine system was also rapidly growing over years, and with this the growing need to know more about where this water originates. Come 2015, with the support of the National Geographic Society, we were heading up to the Angolan Highlands to learn more about where this water comes from, and to follow its flow 2500km, through 3 countries, the Okavango Delta and ending in the desert, the Okavango Wilderness Project is born! Since the 2015 megatransect of the entire Okavango system along the Cuito River, 2500km, the project has surveyed the Cuanavale and Cubango Rivers, a further 1500km of river, and spent months in the landscape learning more about the flora, fauna and people of this region.
With the help of the Hackuarium in Renens (Switzerland) and Octanis in Lausanne (Switzerland), we are currently working hard to develop and test a fully autonomous camera.Not only will the camera take pictures (in and out of a cave visited by monk seals), it will also send the images to a server via 3G/4G network. Everything needs to be solar powered, and weather resistant. It's not easy, but luckily we have great support !
Working hard with the Trident, testing all kinds of different settings.In order to capture 1080p footage, we tried strapping a Paralenz camera to its side. We did several dives, the first one at a depth of 55 meters (see video), and the second we went down to 78 meters ! Both the Trident and the Paralenz responded perfectly to the challenge. More info soon.
We had our first swim yesterday! Success! Our own pequeño post 4th of July pool party... which only means anything to me locally, I guess, with my US roots - Independence Day and my Grandmother Flanigan's Birthday (she was amazing!!!) Only small issues we encountered were with glue not holding tight on a battery tube towards end of trial and the lasers unfocused and shifted spacing. Going to try a bit of stronger plastic glue instead of Super Glue. It was so fun to be swimming with him/her (still need to come up with a name:) and learning to maneuver through the water. Flashbacks to my little remote control Porsche as a kid, but a MILLION times better with the camera and excitement for exploring the ocean!!
The goal of this project is to track the change in sea star abundance over time from the pier at Trinidad, California. This is important because the populations of many sea star species (which are important predators on rocky reefs) have plummeted along much of the West Coast as a result of Sea Star Wasting Syndrome (SSWS). Trinidad was one of the first places where SSWS was seen. We will use the Trident mini-ROV to repeatedly collect video along an underwater transect. Data on sea star abundance will be collected by carefully reviewing each video. This project will provide a hands-on learning experience for high school and college students who will get to pilot the Trident and review the video to collect data from it. The initial steps in this project will be: 1) Receiving the Trident mini-ROV and then project leaders practicing and getting used to running it. 2) Having research divers set up an underwater transect for the ROV to follow.
It's been over a month since we've been back and the culture shock of coming home from expedition is real. Alex and I are cranking away on the edit and we have an army of translators working to create captions for everything we shot. Leave it to me to make my first major independent film a foreign language film with 4 different languages (Russian, Kyrgyz, German and English). Stay tuned for more!
Greetings Enthusiasts! We had a few minutes before a meeting at the Virginia Aquarium and decided to take the Trident for a spin. Though the water was very murky, we took a look at a few the pier and found a nice little blue crab. Take a look at the last minute or so of the below video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v-c1ZmhSoro We will be running through our Blue Robotics BlueROV 1.5 kit this weekend as well. We'll post more as we go. Stay tuned for project updates as we are awaiting pitch results from Here Be Dragons symposium and ideathon we attended at MIT Media labs. https://explore.pubpub.org/pub/smart-bay-arc Updates pending!
Last July (2017), I spent three weeks camping in and around Milne Fiord with three other scientists as part of an ongoing study to document the rapid changes to northern Canadian fjords that accompany the recent trends in extreme Arctic warming. Among many tasks for the field season was the continued investigation of the Milne Ice Shelf "crack," which is a nearly 18 km long surface depression above what is thought to be a sub-ice shelf channel. This hypothetical channel would likely be a major thoroughfare through which fresh snow and glacial melt water can interact with salty Arctic Ocean water. Additionally, the channel would be a possible weak point in the structural integrity of the ice shelf overall. In previous years, the site has been extensively mapped via ice penetrating radar, which shows a significant decrease in ice shelf thickness surrounding the channel, from approximately 50 m thick ice on either side, to closer to 10 m in the center. Accompanying these radar studies were profiles of salinity, temperature, and flow speed, revealing a fast flowing jet of fresh water (Jill Rajewicz's master's thesis at Carleton University). In 2017, the site was revisited. A 40 cm diameter hole was melted through 9 m of ice shelf ice near the center of the channel, through which a variety of sensors were lowered. Salinity, temperature, and flow measurements once again confirmed the fast flowing jet. This time, however, a OpenROV 2.8 was deployed through the hole, capturing stunning video and an amazing revelation: the channel had an ice floor at a depth of 22 meters! This indicated that we may have found an ice tunnel, instead of an open-to-below channel. Living on this floor were a variety of exotic benthic creatures, including brittle stars and other strange marine invertebrates, all surviving on the flow of nutrient-rich water from the fjord. It is absolutely amazing that an ecosystem can survive in such extreme of an environment, where the water is pitch black and at -2 degrees Celsius year-round. In the summer of 2018 I, along with three more adventurers, will return to Milne Fiord and will revisit the Milne Ice Shelf tunnel. We are hoping to bring along a brand new Trident underwater drone, the improved camera and navigation on which will facilitate a much more in-depth exploration of the tunnel. Follow along as we prepare for the new field season!
The spawn is over this year. The folks over at the DOE did another few dives in the last few weeks on the "lesser moons" and it turned out there was activity as well but not the height of SPAG that can be seen on the major moons. The Trident has been sent back to California for a maintenance cycle and then back out to some adventure. Before closing this, there are a few ways you can help/get involved. The first is head over to the REEF.org website and make sure you are spreading the word about that organization and the great work they do. The second is to make sure you and all your dive buddies are supportive of conservation efforts around the great Nassau grouper. https://www.reef.org/contribute http://www.reef.org/trips/2018 Until next year, Zack out.
Seagrasses are valuable habitat and in decline worldwide. The neptune grass, Posidonia oceanica, is the most important seagrass habitat in the Mediterranean and is in decline or recently absent at several locations. An inexpensive and easy method is necessary to monitor small declines in order to prevent loss and manage this habitat. We have developed a geospatial video towfish method in which a camera and depth sensors are towed from a boat and geopositioned with submeter accuracy. We would like to migrate this method to an ROV, the Trident system in order to make it usable throughout the Mediterranean. We envision a citizen-science based method of seagrass monitoring in which we use a fleet of Tridents that are sent out to ROV enthusiasts throughout coastal locations. Each Trident is deployed at a chosen location and sent back to the main lab for analysis, and images are stored permanently for future comparison. The regression of seagrass occurrence or cover against depth is compared at different places and times as a quantitative measure of change over space and time. Decline or increase is defined as a change in the parameters of a logistic regression of seagrass occurrence against depth. For more information on the statistics of seagrass monitoring and geospatial videographic monitoring, see our published work here: http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0138378
Billion Oyster Project (BOP) is an effort to restore a sustainable oyster population and to foster awareness, affinity, and understanding of the Harbor by engaging New Yorkers directly in the work of restoring one billion oysters. The hands-on science of reef construction and monitoring is executed through in-school restoration based STEM learning opportunities, community science and research, restaurant shell collection and volunteer programs. Students at New York Harbor School have been growing and restoring oysters in New York Harbor for the last seven years. They have learned to SCUBA dive safely, raise oyster larvae, operate and maintain vessels, build and operate commercial-scaled oyster nurseries, design underwater monitoring equipment and conduct long-term authentic research projects all in the murky, contaminated, fast-moving waters of one of the busiest ports in the country. Billion Oyster Project now collaborates with over seventy middle and high schools throughout all five boroughs. At these schools, BOP works with teachers to provide authentic, place-based science and math lessons taught through the lens of oyster restoration. Each year, thousands of students participate in these learning opportunities and together have produced a rich and authentic data set describing oyster growth and survival, water quality, presence and diversity of other organisms at over 30 sites. The Harbor School Ocean Engineering class plans to use an OpenROV to perform BOP reef monitoring activities, as well as do reconnaissance and support for the SCUBA program. In the summer of 2018, the SCUBA class will be retrieving bagged oyster shell from the BOP Head of Bay site. The bagged shell has been at the bottom of the harbor for over a year, and finding it will be a challenge. With an ROV the BOP engineers are hoping to support the divers and speed up their recovery of the oysters.
March 6th, 2018San Diego, CA Project Pegasus Par 10: Rebuild Remix Project Pegasus has been a roller coaster of a ride since its inception last Spring (2017). After a long hiatus, we’re finally able to make the necessary repairs to get Pegasus back in the water. After a lot of head scratching and troubleshooting, we finally realized that the DB25 connector was fried. There about 25 different wires that provide power and information to Pegasus; think of the DB25 as the place where your skull meets your spine. One end of the DB25 is fixed in an “endcap” which seals off the e-chassis from the outside environment. The wires pass through the endcap and are dispersed across the body of Pegasus. The other end of the DB25 connector is mounted to the e-chassis, which is essentially Pegasus’s brain. All systems looked good after we rebuilt the starboard battery tube and controller board, but still Pegasus wasn’t turning on. Power simply wasn’t getting from the battery tubes to the e-chassis. It’s going to take us a little while to rewire Pegasus, which is easier said than done. Here’s Jordan had to say about our pre-rewiring prep: “The ROV and our team have been through a lot over the past year or so. It was sad to see that our DB25 pin, which controls where all the power from the batteries go, was fried. This means that we will need to essentially rewire the majority of the ROV. It is OK though because soldering is one of the most interesting parts of the build! Wire management is also a big concern for our team. We debated over the best places to cut the wires in order to ensure the best wire management as well as least amount of soldered connections. Today we had to look up some old instructions and rebuild the end cap with a new DB25 connector that we got from OpenROV®. We had to revert back to solvent welding with the dropper that is slightly to wide to allow the liquid to drip slowly. We were able to solvent weld the pieces of plastic together and epoxy the DB25 connector in the end cap, in order to waterproof this portion. After about 2 1/2 hours of work we realized that we had to wait at least another hour for the epoxy to dry before we could even start soldering the new joints, so we decided to save that for another day. We did, however, solder little pieces of solder onto the ends of the batteries so that they would stay in contact with each other in the battery tubes.” Stay tuned! The team and I are meeting next week to rewire Pegasus and get it ready for its public debut at CMIL’s Marine Science Day! Cheers, -Baron von Urchin
This project will support the restoration efforts of Mālama Maunalua; a local nonprofit. Mālama Maunalua has engaged approximately 3,000 volunteers, including 1,000 students, to participate in our 30+ community hukis (invasive algae removal events) every year for the past eight years. More than 3.5 million pounds have been removed and recycled as soil amendment at local farms. Even with schedule hukis several times a month, Mālama Maunalua lacks the eyes and hands needed to map and monitor the 28 acres of the bay on a regular basis. Future work aims to employ underwater ROV imagery and aerial sUAS imagery to improve our understanding of algal cover and regrowth dynamics.
We are working hard to set up evrything for the next operation stage. Now it's time for our research team to analyze all the data acquired in these last years and submit them to the scientific Committee. For the rest of the team days are full of work on social and web to add new contents to support our project.The Punic Ram is going to be anlyzed from one of the world maximum expert of carthaginian language...I'm sure its translation will add new relevant data to our research, here is the detailed image of the inscription
The archipelago of the Philippines is known as the global epicenter of marine shore fish diversity, home to 2,824 marine fish species and 484 coral species. With more than five million fishers relying on fish and fishery products as a source of food and income, the marine ecosystem is a vital resource for the country’s growth and development. Unfortunately, the region is also one of the world’s most impacted by overfishing and illegal fishing, with dynamite fishing still being used in certain areas. A recent study revealed that 59 species have been disappearing from Philippine waters since the 1950s, including some coral reef giants such as the Humphead Wrasse, the Bumphead Parrotfish and the Giant Grouper. Today, 97% of the Philippines’ large-bodied marine species are so low in numbers that they can only be found in certain areas. In partnership with the Haribon Foundation and with the support of National Geographic, we are producing a five-minute underwater virtual reality experience to bring the heart of the Filipinos back to the ocean. Using the power of immersive storytelling, Filipino teenagers will experience the beauty of Apo Reef Natural Park (ARNP), the second largest contiguous coral reef in the world, meeting some of the most charismatic yet threatened species that thrive there. Getting an insight into our interconnectedness with the natural world, they will be inspired to protect it.
A key component of Rare's Fish Forever program is the establishment of managed access areas coupled with marine reserves. To date, we have used divers to survey the fish populations and benthic communities inside and outside of our managed access areas to document baseline conditions and to monitor the effects of these areas on ecosystem health. In the next phase of our program we plan to incorporate underwater imagery and ROV technology into our evaluation strategy.
With a National Geographic team, we explored Kiel Cove to search for eelgrass habitat and sharks on the Tiburon Peninsula using the Trident drone. On a cool, sunny day with a brisk North wind, we arrived in the sheltered cove off the Tiburon peninsula known to have healthy eelgrass beds. There was evidence of a recent herring spawn with active seal ions, harbor seals, grebes and cormorants foraging. We deployed the Trident and had a successful documentation of eelgrass beds (Zostera marina). The buzz along the bottom gave me great confidence we can document sharks although we did not see any this trip.Hound sharks and rays use eelgrass as a preferred habitat to forage, so we will keep looking for them at herring spawns with the Trident. Eelgrass is also critical habitat for many species and is in great decline globally. It is preferred spawning habitat for Pacific herring and refuge for invertebrates like Dungeness crab, and other species. We did see epiphytic algae and Isopods (Corophium sp.) on the blades, but no signs of Phyllaplysia taylori, the Zebra sea hare or Taylor's Sea Hare, that uses eelgrass habitat grazing on the epiphytic growth. The Trident should be a good tool for scanning for this tiny endemic nudibranch- thought to have been impacted by the heavy flows of freshwater flowing into the San Francisco Bay in 2017. Our youngest intern Luca came along and adeptly piloted the drone. We will continue in Aquatic Park and Richardson Bay during the winter season in anticipation of the hound shark and ray pupping season. Late spring we will re-launch our vessel after a refit and begin exploring and documenting our coastal MPAs.
Found A Whale Placenta! Being the first to film the birth of a humpback whale will involve a mix of luck, skill, and a lot of water time. A combination of these paid off for our team member, Anna Garner, on February 17th, when she found a placenta freshly passed from a mother whale. Here is her account of that day on the water. I captain a whale watching raft out of Lahaina for Pacific Whale Foundation (PWF). On the first trip of the day it was glassy calm. Around 9 am I came across a female, escort and a small calf. The mother had a noticeably hooked dorsal fin making her very distinctive, the male had a fairly blunt and squared off dorsal fin, and the calf initially appeared to have no dorsal fin at all. Once or twice I used binoculars and could see that the dorsal fin was laying completely flat to the calf’s back. I have worked on whale watching boats since 2006, and I don’t recall seeing too many dorsal fins quite as flopped over as this one. Additionally, this calf was tiny and barely breaking the surface as it came up. The general impression that it was fairly meek. The color of the calf was the same dark grey/black of the mother. After twenty minutes or so I left. The activity level was minimal from all three whales and they were beginning to travel west. We went off to look at other whales. Closer to 10 am I found the same mother, calf and escort. I recognized the distinctive hooked fin of the mother and the flopped dorsal of the calf. The male appeared to be the same as in the prior encounter. I never saw the tail flukes on any of them so I can’t confirm by that method that it was the same whales. However, I do feel confident that we had happened upon the same mother, calf and escort again. I didn’t see any other whales to watch so I cruised along with the trio on their left side as they traveled west. Nothing particularly dramatic happened. They swam. Sometimes a little faster, sometimes slowly, not always in a straight line but generally heading in the same direction. At one point the calf slapped it’s tail as it was swimming. I noticed that the tail had a rubbery/floppy appearance, though I wouldn’t say it looked crumpled at all. Along the same lines, I didn’t notice fetal folds, though from a solid 130 or so yards away (I checked with the rangefinder once or twice) it isn’t the sort of thing I could see. I did use the binoculars on the initial sighting, but the calf had such minimal surfacings that I didn’t see enough of the body to say if fetal folds were present. On the 10 o’clock sighting I was mostly focused on driving the boat and less on binocular usage. Finally, something happened. It was more of the same really, a slight dive/round out from the mother combined with a swish of the tail that created a bit of a wake. The ocean rippled from the dive and I could see a white patch where the whale went down. As I drove over I did think that it might be a placenta, due to the young nature of the calf, the fact it hadn’t been their prior, and the constant hope that I will see something unusual and exciting in the midst of a 12 hour work day. As we got closer to the spot it did look a lot like a white plastic bag. When I pulled up alongside it we could see some red attached to the white blotch. The water around the placenta had blood in it. Just a light cloud of blood that tinged the water a brownish green color, and it dissipated fairly quickly while we watched. There were lots of little pieces of white, like tissue paper floating around the main piece. We were lucky to have an OB Gyn on the boat and she was able to give me a rough idea of what we were looking at: The white section that was about four feet long and two feet wide was the amniotic sac; the placenta appeared to be ripped in half dangling off either end. There were veins running through the surface that were as big around as a finger. If you are trying to create a mental picture allow me to assist you. Envision filling a white garbage bag with raw hamburger meat and throwing it in the ocean. Done! You basically have yourself the after birth of a whale. I’m sure everyone who will read this will have their own interpretation of the events. Here are mine: I think that calf was born very close to the time we first saw it, but I have no idea how close we might have been to the actual event. I think it took the mother about an hour of swimming to pass the after birth. A human can often take 10-30 minutes. An hour seems like it would make sense. Does the swimming and contraction of the tail muscles aid in expelling the after birth? Seems likely, and I am curious about that. Based on my observations, I’d say that female passed the after birth right at the surface before the dive. I think I was lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I didn’t see any sharks in the area, nor did the female loiter in the area. I’ve wondered if a female might eat the after birth. Certain mammal species do, but in this instance it didn’t appear to be on the agenda. Seems worth mentioning that I did not collect the after birth. Tempting to be sure, but I am under the impression that you need a permit to collect any part of a whale. I am not sure what happened to the after birth. Though I returned to the same general area on future trips we didn’t come across anything. I want to take a moment to thank Annelise Cochran for being an awesome naturalist and crew member who was just as stoked to find a whale placenta. She took some great photos of the moment that can be viewed on the PWF facebook page. Also thank you to Jeanne, our passenger who shared her photos with me. Mine were worthless, and it was very kind of her to share. She is also the OB Gyn who interpreted the photos for me. It was the first placenta I’ve ever seen, and I knew none of the anatomy until she enlightened me. All 18 of my passengers were excited and good sports about hanging out with a whale placenta for 10-15 minutes of their whale watch, I’m glad I had such a nerdy, enthusiastic bunch to share the encounter with. P.S. I struggle to add more then one photo to my posts here. Probably because I (Anna) can be somewhat inept when technology is involved. So you can view an almost identical blog post, with MORE PHOTOS at Kohola Film
My research seeks to understand the risks associated with the transport of invasive marine species In a world globalized through the movement of people and products, the maritime industry dominates: 90% of the world’s trade moves by ship in an ocean that covers 71% of the globe’s surface. As the movement of goods and people continues to globalize, so does the risk of spreading marine invasive species through vectors like commercial ships. Invasive species are a huge ecologic and economic threat to the United States, as well as on a global scale.San Francisco is the most invaded estuary in the world, and thus the risk factor increases for the spread of marine invasive species through mechanisms like ballast water transport and biofouling. In addition to the already existent risks, there are numerous vessels in San Francisco with atypical operational profiles, staying in one place for extended time periods and accumulating biofouling, the attachment of organisms to the wetted surface areas of a ship. There is a relevant need for quantitative measurements of biofouling and organisms’ responses to ship transit. In order to eradicate, prevent, and act effectively against marine invasive species, we need a better understanding of the role that hull fouling plays in marine invasion dynamics. In order to eradicate, prevent, and act effectively against marine invasive species, we need a better understanding of the role that hull fouling plays in marine invasion dynamics. I will approach the problem in two ways. First, I will conduct a fouling survey of the Training Ship Golden Bear (TSGB) at the California State University Maritime Academy and continue to monitor its hull fouling communities throughout its annual summer voyage. I want to know what impacts a rapid shift in salinity and flow will have on these communities. I hypothesize that a sudden change in salinity, as well as additional flow, will remove settling communities and kill settled organisms. Additionally, I will submerge fouling panels coated in a paint similar to that on the TSGB. As these panels are submerged throughout various locations in the bay, I will look to ground my earlier mentioned field results in lab work by subjecting the communities I grow on the panels to varied salinity and flow levels. I want to fully understand the impact of salinity and flow on these communities. Similar to part 1, I hypothesize that in my lab experiments, a sudden change in salinity and flow will be destructive to fouling communities. To understand the level of mitigation, monitoring, and legislative action necessary, scientists and policy-makers need to understand the actual level of risk of invasive species transport from these types of vessels with existing biofouling communities. Specifically, in order for California to successfully uphold its 2016 biofouling regulations, the State and its regulators need to have quantitative data for analyzing risks of invasive species transfers in, and out of, its coastal waterways.
Purple Urchin Removal -- February 2-3, 2018 This most recent video, taken by Jon Holcomb, a professional urchin diver, was taken off Caspar on the North Coast of California. The video shows a stunningly bare ocean floor where once rich stands of bull kelp thrived. Scattered across the seabed are groups of purple urchin, which Jon is removing in an effort to assist the regrowth of kelp. Two divers were involved in this removal dive, which took seven hours over two days. One small note of hope from Jon – the purple urchins are now so weak that they cannot move far, so clearing areas of urchins and keeping them clear may indeed allow kelp spores to attach to the rocks and begin to grow, without being immediately eaten. 2018 will be a pilot year for Noyo’s Help the Kelp campaign—more divers will be enlisted to remove urchins from additional areas, and Noyo volunteers will be there to continue the measuring studies. The Trident drone will help with the monitoring and documentation of the various sites. Photos: Typical amount of urchins removed in one diving session, about 380 pounds. (Photo: Natalie West) Noyo volunteer, Steve Brekke-Brownell, measuring an urchin using manual calipers. One thousand urchins are measured for each session, usually by 3 teams of 3 persons: two measurers and one recorder per team. (Photo: Natalie West) This photo was taken during a recent measuring and shows an urchin of reproductive size (50-75 mm). The gonads are smaller than would be normal in a healthy urchin, however, the presence of some eggs confirm that the urchins must be removed, not crushed in place, which could result in release of the eggs into the ocean. (Photo: Natalie West)
Underwater Drones and Ghost Gear in Indonesia Abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded fishing gear (ALDFG), also known as ‘ghost gear’ accounts for approximately 10% of marine debris and has serious impacts on marine wildlife, habitats and fish stocks. ALDFG may result in reduced profits when it continues to fish (‘ghost fishing’) and increased operational costs for vessel owners/operators and authorities through the replacement of lost gear and retrieval efforts. ALDFG also represents a navigational and safety at sea issue. Fishing gear has been abandoned, lost or otherwise discarded since the earliest time when fishing began, but extensive use of low-cost, durable and non-degradable synthetic materials in fisheries worldwide since the 1960s has dramatically accelerated and intensified the problem. The overall increase in fishing capacity and the targeting of more distant and deep water grounds has further escalated the issue. Research shows that gillnets, traps, pots and fish aggregating devices (FADs) are some of the most likely gear types to become ghost gear, and can have the most severe impact on mortality and welfare of marine species. Indonesia World Animal Protection through partnerships in the Global Ghost Gear Initiative and with funding from the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations has been undertaking a field project in two pilot sites in Java, Indonesia relating to the issue of ALDFG. Indonesia was proposed as region for the project due to the severe issues of marine debris, including ALDFG, known to originate there, coupled with increased threat of IUU and the stated recognition and willingness of the Indonesian government to take steps towards addressing it. Gillnets were proposed as a primary focus of the project due to both their prevalence and impact as ALDFG. Gillnets, designed to catch fish by entangling them around their gills, have been found to be one of the most damaging types of fishing gear, along with trammel nets, if not managed properly and make up a significant proportion of global marine fisheries landings. Gillnets and other entangling nets are able to maintain high ghost fishing catch rates for long periods, years in some cases. On our pilot site in Sadeng, where the fishers operate in deeper waters in the Indian Ocean in less favourable weather conditions, high rates of gear loss were reported, with one study estimating 35,000 pieces of gillnet being lost in the spiny lobster fishery each year. Due to the low value of gillnets and a government subsidy programme providing nets to fishers there is limited incentive to retrieve lost nets in either project site, although repair and reuse of damaged nets is commonly reported. Problem Despite awareness that significant numbers of gillnets are being lost in Indonesian gillnet fisheries there is no data about volumes based on aerial, beach or marine surveys. The current estimates are based on face to face interviews for a research project. Therefore, it is important to verify the data from the surveys in the pilot sites to ascertain how much gear is lost, whether it is ghost fishing and entangling marine wildlife and whether it can be safely retrieved. Proposed Solution Following conversations with all the parties we propose that a solution to bridge the data gap and understand the severity and prevalence of ghost gear in hotspot areas in nearshore gillnet fisheries, underwater drones could be programmed using AI to identify ghost gear and be deployed on survey missions. Using sensors, AI and a camera we hope that drones will be able to demonstrate where ghost gear is accumulating and start to indicate what type of impact it is having. Data collected during the surveys will not only inform the future development of our solutions work in Indonesia but also provide vital evidence for the Global Ghost Gear Initiative data portal, which is a project aiming to create the first and only global data set on trends and abundances of ghost gear. With this dataset many things be established: the main contributors of these accumulated piles of ghost gear can be educated, the scope of this problem can be visualised and, therewith, politicians can be presured into taking more action. Project Scope We know that large amounts of fishing gear are lost at depth in the Southern pilot site, but this is potentially unsuitable for the capacity of the drones due to the conditions. However, gillnets are commonly lost inshore rocky habitats in shallower conditions, so we propose the drones could be tested in this environment to determine some key research questions: How much gear has accumulated in the focus area? How are the currents effecting the accumulation of ghost gear? Is there evidence of wildlife and marine flora entanglement? Is the gear in a position that indicates it can continue to ‘ghost fish’ (ie- hanging vertically in the water column, rather than snagged and rolled up on the sea bed? Is the gear safely retrievable? Etcetera
I've been testing my new Trident ROV (one of the beta units) and it performs amazingly. I can't wait for the summer months when we will be out all the time looking for seastars, subtidal creatures, and hopefully some of the whales that hang out in Tutka Bay. Here's a quick peek at one day out on the water. I took my friend, Curtis Jackson, who is a boat captain (and biologist and amazing person) out with me so that he could have a chance to "fly" the Trident underwater. He will be getting his own Trident later this Spring and has great plans for it (e.g. education). Later this year, when we have more hours of sunlight, the seaweed will be gorgeous. The shells on the seafloor are the remains from sea otter lunches. I'm most encouraged by the presence of some healthy seastars (in this video you will see Evasterias troschelli, a Mottled seastar). Please excuse the cheesy theme music!
Upon our latest meeting our Coral Care and Reef Mapping project now has the full support of Fundemar YIPEE!!! With this collaboration official I was able to create some data that details the common areas of interest for both the local dive shop and Fundemar. Fundemar provided locations of all its current areas of interest, the local dive shop also provided dive site locations they are interested in having mapped with the accuracy and details I am able to provide. Below are mocked up maps of the 3 different locations maps, with the common interests map being the primary focus for this first stage of the mapping process HAPPY DIVING
This expedition's goal is to bring underwater exploration to a June/July expedition tracing ancient sea routes of the North Atlantic. The adventure will launch from Aberdeen and sail on to Reykjavik. From the craggy coastline of Scotland, past the staggering cliffs of the Faroe Islands to the volcanic plains of Iceland, this expedition charts a course unlike any other on Earth. The opportunity is made possible by Adventure Canada and The Explorers Club working together to inspire young explorers and provide the opportunity for explorers, like me, to gain new knowledge and share new stories from the remote parts of the world we travel in. I plan to explore the underwater landscapes of Scotland, the Shetland Islands, Faroe Islands, and along the Icelandic coastline using an OpenROV. Through this tool, I can add depth to the expedition allowing glimpses of vibrant sub-polar and temperate marine communities. I am especially interested flying the ROV in the waters of Mykines Island at the westernmost outpost of the Faroe Islands. The isolated nature of the island suggests unique marine life in this gateway to the Norwegian Sea. The region is known for lush kelp beds. Within these regions, exploration may encounter Deadman’s Fingers a spookily-named five branch soft coral colony endemic to the region! The expedition will also have an extensive land-based exploration component. Followers and friends connected here through OpenExplorer will have the chance to explore Neolithic ruins on rugged Celtic islands and sail into the sagas of Norse explorers bound for far-flung Arctic shores. I look forward to experimenting with the types of storytelling I can add to an expedition by opening up a window to the undersea world. Using this page, I hope to open landscapes in the Northern Atlantic to people who may otherwise never experience the place. This adventure will foster all of our curiosity which I believe is the root of learning. We will all be able to dive into the temperate ocean- a zone which absorbs a high percentage of CO2 from the atmosphere and drives the productivity blooms which every plate of seafood depend upon. For this adventure, I'll be leaning on my extensive background in telling adventure stories honed working on Exploration Vessel Nautilus, the world's largest passenger submarine, and as North America's Rolex scholar. I've pitched this exciting expedition to partners and will learn in March if I will have a spot onboard the ship. Cross your fingers for me fellow adventure-ers! I would love to share this adventure with all of the OpenExplorer community! [Image by KudoyBook Travel]
This is it, folks. Our last chance on this expedition to the Gulf of Thailand to collect the imagery needed to reconstruct a MASSIVE 3D model of our study site and to use it for....SCIENCE! Specifically, by creating a 3D map of this massive coral reef, we can extract data that describe the shape of the habitat, and we can see how well this habitat could be used to predict the behavior (including social feeding behavior) of ecologically critical coral reef fish. Check out more of our videos to learn more about our research, and about marine biology (in action ) in general.
I am an avid diver, having explored underwater sites who has dived 7 seas. I have done marine conservation work through helping to found and grow the Sustainable Ocean Alliance, as well as supporting Marine Conservation Institute's Global Ocean Refuge System-- an initiative to help incentivize strong protections of 30% of the world's oceans. I also write about ocean issues as a contributor to Huffington Post and will publish about my OpenExplorer expeditions: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/sebastian-nicholls Past expeditions have resulted in video and photo assets used for raising awareness, driving political engagement, and encouraging greater protections of marine ecosystems.
The key goals of the research mission will cover these areas, and include:GIS mapping for seven islands Drone Lidar, IR, NIR image acquisition Coral Reef monitoring and decline WFCRC (and partners) methods for reef assessments to ensure the data has the widest applicability Coastal morphology A feasibility and needs assessment on each island for a coral nursery time permitting. Previous experience has shown that to involve residents in actions that effect their own wellbeing could achieve the long lasting results needed for sustainability now and well into the future. With that in mind the ESRI GIS software and data base information gathered along with training to monitor and survey each island will be donated to a representative of the Cook Islands to continue and duplicate the data gathered as a base line for comparison over time. Participation from local constituents as well as an understanding of local traditions and life styles are paramount in how the program will be executed. It is not our effort to reinvent the wheel in our executions but to use existing local and digital knowledge and previous work for a seamless project delivery. The data model we create will provide a single, user friendly resource to monitor and manage local resources. Previous research on the islands will be merged into with our GIS database as much as possible and is a common format to be used by other researchers and we encourage interdisciplinary data sharing. WFCRC Major Objectives and Key Goals: Research and report the causes of, and solutions to coral reef decline Implement strategies to promote conservation and sustainable use of coral reefs locally and internationally. Capture hi res 4k drone visual, Lidar and NIR geo referenced imagery of entire coastal areas along with various other island locations Establish control points around each island for survey which will allow for follow up surveying covering the exact same transects to be performed at given time intervals. Create a GIS base map to contain all data gathered Turtle nesting surveys and in-water observations where time allows Locate turtle nesting sites and identify restricted areas on gis base map and by mobile WFCRC Mobile application. Shark population surveys using remotely deployed camera arrays using geo referenced photos with possible ARGO tracking for GIS base map.
I hope to join Adventure Canada and The Explorers Club on an October expedition circumnavigating Newfoundland onboard the Ocean Endeavor. The adventure will begin and end in St. Johns and travel along the historic and rugged coastline. I plan to explore the underwater landscapes of this unique island using an OpenROV from Zodiacs (inflatable boats), pier-side, and perhaps even from the ship! Dive sites are not yet decided, but near the top of the list has to be the remarkable geology of Gros Morne National Park. The expedition will also have an extensive land-based exploration component. Sites along the Newfoundland coast will include Red Bay’s Basque Whaling Station (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), learning about Viking history in North America at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, and enjoy a taste of the Mi’kmaq culture in Miawpukek First Nation (Conne River). I look forward to experimenting with the types of storytelling I can add to an expedition by opening up a window to the undersea world. For this adventure, I'll be leaning on my extensive background in telling adventure stories honed working on Exploration Vessel Nautilus, the world's largest passenger submarine, and as North America's Rolex scholar. The decision if I have a spot onboard will be made by late March. Cross your fingers! I would love to share this adventure with all of the OpenExplorer community! [Image by the Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism Board]